For cap reasons, the Browns can’t cut quarterback Johnny Manziel until the new league year begins. When it happens, the Browns may owe Manziel not a further dime.
His salary of $1.169 million is fully guaranteed for 2016, along with $1.004 million of his 2017 salary. But the contract, a copy of which PFT has obtained, contemplates the voiding of the guarantees for a variety of reasons.
If Manziel is suspended by the NFL (under any policy) or the team (including a suspension for conduct detrimental to the club), the guarantees go away. Also, if he “fails or refuses to report, practice or play” or “leaves Club without is prior written consent,” the guarantees go away. (Late last year, he reportedly failed to show up for treatment while in the concussion protocol.) Likewise, the guarantees are null and void if Manziel specifically is terminated for a reason other than skill, injury, or salary cap.
Manziel’s decisions and lifestyle would make him unsympathetic in connection with any grievance aimed at recovering the guaranteed money. Given that his agent fired Manziel in the days before the Super Bowl, there’s a chance Manziel wouldn’t dot the i’s and/or cross the t’s necessary to pursue his rights.
Either way, the Browns have a good chance to avoid throwing bad money after bad, cutting Manziel off while cutting him from the roster. Even if the Browns would eventually lose the fight, why not give it a try? Based on his behavior, most fans would support the effort.